‘Oh it’s a dog’s life…‘ and depending on how old you are, will probably determine how you interpret that little phrase. For the younger generation, a life of heavily pampered fuss & affection, while the elder generation see a dog’s life as one of misery & subservience. I think the jury’s still out, but I’ve always sided with the younger generation myself (of course ). Well in an attempt to clear up the debate I’d like to give you a brief résumé of a certain Springer Spaniel who reached the ripe old age of 9 last week.
So is it a life of pampered fuss or one of abject misery? I’ll let you decide…
Baggins was born 24th January 2002, along with his 5 brothers & sisters. From day 1 he was about the size of all of his brothers & sisters put together; he still is!!! At just a few weeks old and we knew instantly that Baggins was the one we wanted. I picked up the little bundle of wriggling fluff and promptly dropped him on the floor He bounced pretty well (he still does!!!) and no apparent harm had been done. A few weeks later and we dragged our little puppy away from his mummy & daddy and carried Baggins home, where he was ‘introduced’ to our 4 cats. As meetings go, it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen; Baggins was terrified. He cowered & whimpered in the corner of the room, as our cats sat sharpening their claws & plotting their next move. What had we done to this poor little dog? That night, Tracy & I slept on the sofa with our new, clearly distressed dog!!! Over the next few weeks our new, still clearly distressed dog was carried upstairs every night, in his makeshift bed/cardboard-box. And as his legs were still too tiny to cope with the stairs, he was carried down every morning (he can practically get down the stairs in one bounce today!!!).
During the 1st year a few things became immediately apparent; Baggins was going to be a monstrously large Springer Spaniel, his fear of the cats wouldn’t last very long & our dog would eat absolutely anything!!! He was growing at an alarming rate & he now saw the cats as exciting new playmates. A view not shared by our disgruntled cats. For months the still small’ish Baggins had been able to fit through the cat-flap, thus giving the poor cats no peace. But eventually the day came when he was simply too big. Baggins was determined to get through & the cat-flap broke. We had to buy a new one!!! Over the years, as our cats died, he would continue to break our cat-flap on a regular basis. Tormenting the cats was certainly a lot of fun, but it wasn’t his main pleasure in life. That would be eating and I’m not simply talking about food (although that does feature quite a lot!!!). In his early life Baggins ploughed his way through:
- Shoes. lots of shoes. We’ve even had people stay over who’ve lost their shoes!!!
- Mobile-phones. To be fair I think he’s only eaten one of these, but again it was a friend’s phone
- Books. Plenty of these we’ve found shredded, including my very precious travel sketchbook (not impressed!!!).
- Toilet-rolls. He went through an annoying phase of eating our loo-rolls. It was hugely messy & far from funny!!!
- Food that wasn’t his. The list is endless, but here’re just a few of the more spectacular ones: Swordfish steaks straight from the oven, a whole Stilton at a party, a huge chunk off a friend’s birthday cake, the top off a pavlova at a family party, any bread that doesn’t get put away and about 50% of all food we’ve ever given to Sawyer.
- And last, but by no means least… Toys. Most of Sawyer’s toys have fallen foul of Baggins. The ones the get rescued in time are stitched back together, often in some macabre style while the rest are simply binned. It’s pretty brutal and if Pixar want any ideas for Toy Story 4, they just need to write Baggins into the plot!!!
Not that we’re expecting our insane hound to disappear anytime soon, but 9 is actually a pretty good age for a Springer and considering the narrow escapes he’s had along the way, it’s a minor miracle he’s reached the age he has!!! Baggins has been yanked from rivers & canals when there was no way out. He’s been seconds away from a farmer’s shotgun while ‘worrying’ a few dozen sheep on a Welsh mountain and he’s survived a hair-raising sprint across Derby’s busy ring-road (I think a squirrel had been spotted?). He’s also leaped through our car window whilst we were moving & whilst still being on his lead!!! He’s survived a 20ft leap over a beach break-water in Wales and then in 2004 our startled dog was carried down a ladder & out of our burning house by the local Fire Service. Baggins thanked the fireman by pissing all over him, but he did at least get a mention in the local press a few days later!!!
Our hound has led what some would call a rather charmed life. Now at the ripe old age of 9, he is of course a lot more reserved, chilled & sensible (yeah right!!!). Unfortunately Springers don’t do reserved, chilled or sensible, so it looks like we’ll have a few more years of lunacy left… And to be honest, we wouldn’t want it any other way
So there you go; the next time you hear that little phrase ‘Oh it’s a dog’s life…‘ you’ll hopefully have a much clearer idea of exactly what kind of life they were referring to…